Angels of Galway Harbour

by Terence Jones

Friday 1.59pm

How many swans exactly line the harbour
in Galway? And what is she doing up there,
Our Lady in Effigy, filling an alcove
in her perpetual pose of prayer?

And another form, practising her tightrope
while lunchers on a quayside stroll
pretend not to notice because
the world is not a circus after all.

And a heron stilt-walking
on the mud of low tide – unfurling
her clothy wrap – all curiosity
for new research and fresh sites.

And the camera on a tripod perched
for the long-awaited moment
when, at the entry to the church,
today’s bride pauses, her train of white
palpitating like a silken brook.

And then – disappeared. The rope walker, too,
in a moment of my inattention.
The heron, too. We used to say the passage
of an angel would stop you mid-flow
and misdirect your gaze.

So time to speculate upon the angels,
and how many can fit upon the quay
in Galway. And are they passing by,
or were they left behind – bereaved
guardians of the faithful departed?